Job Searching in Tough Economic Times
by Donna Ross
This column will reach many preservice teachers just as you are finishing your credential programs and applying for jobs. Unfortunately, this is not the easiest job market. However, there are always some teaching jobs available and you should strive to market yourself as effectively as possible. This column highlights a few suggestions.
If you are still in your student teaching placement, be sure to invite the school administrators to observe your teaching. Assuming you are doing excellent work, this is an opportunity to showcase your skills. Be sure to thank the administrator in writing for visiting your class. If you have enough contact and the opportunity arises, you may be able to ask the administrator for a letter of recommendation. However, even if there is not a formal recommendation, administrators talk among themselves. Imagine the value of the principal describing your brilliant lesson to a principal at another school who just learned of a position opening up due to a retirement at her school.
Volunteer for extra activities. The science education community is small. Those who participate attract positive notice. Administrators want teachers who are dedicated to making a difference for their students. In most communities, if multiple people were asked to identify which teachers are involved in science school-community partnerships, the same names will be consistently listed. You want to be part of that list for two reasons: because you will be involved in exciting opportunities for students and because administrators will think of you when they are looking for employees.
Seek other paths to become familiar with schools and districts. If your schedule allows, try working as a substitute at a variety of sites. This will permit you the opportunity to become known by many teachers. It will also allow you the chance to see which schools fit best with your teaching philosophy. Again, if you have enough contact with an administrator or teacher at a site, you may be able to get a letter of recommendation, but equally important are the verbal recommendations among colleagues.
Identify and prepare brief examples that demonstrate your excellence in the field. Make sure that you have a high quality manner of presenting these examples to potential employers. The key words here are brief and excellence. It is better to have several short examples than one long one. This is basic marketing. The first step is to interest future employers. Then you will have time later to go into more depth about your philosophy.
Practice interview techniques. Many universities have career placement offices that offer videotaped mock interview sessions. These can be invaluable training opportunities, particularly in a tight job market when one poorly answered interview question might be all that separates you from the next candidate. If your university does not offer these services, a group of friends role-playing an interview panel can provide some of the same support.
When looking for jobs, search regularly on district websites, individual school websites (particularly for charter, alternative, magnet, and private schools), and network with people. For example, faculty members at your university often hear of local job openings. If you have a student CSTA chapter or other organization, stay in contact. Timing can be important. For example, if a job opening is casually mentioned at a meeting, a faculty member is more likely to pass along your information if he or she just saw you at an event and was reminded that you are looking for a similar position.
Don’t forget the basics of any job search. Dress and behave professionally, be polite and respectful, and always thank those involved in the process. Complete paperwork neatly and accurately. Consider widening your geographic search area. Be sure that all electronic communication is appropriate, including any social media that might be accessible to the public. Employers do check.
Most importantly, become involved in the professional community. The more well known you are in the field for your ideas and experience with science education activities, the more employers will seek you. Even in tight job markets, there are usually people who have multiple job offers. Ultimately, this allows you to choose the best fit for your teaching style and philosophy. Best wishes to you all.
Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.
by Michelle French
Since the public reviews of the Next Generation Science Standards have come to a close, like many primary teachers, I’ve been wondering what science will look like in kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms. Learn More…
“SOL Grotto, 2012. 1368 glass tubes, paint. Fabrication: Matarozzi Pelsinger, Rael San Fratello Architects. SOL Grotto is a contemporary take on a grotto or Throeau’s cabin – a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude and close to nature – where one is presented with a mediated experience of water, coolness and light. The SOL Grotto also explores Solyndra’s role as a company S#@t Out of Luck. 1,368 of the 24 million high tech glass tubes destined to be destroyed as a casualty of their bankruptcy, are used in the installation. The tube’s original role as a light concentrating element is extended to transmit cool air into the space via the Venturi effect, to amplify sounds from the adjacent waterfall via the vibrations of the tubes cantilevering over the creek, and to create distorted views of the garden. The form of the electric blue array evokes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where shadows, light and sounds can call reality into question.”
Responses from Readers:
Peter A’Hearn: Rush hour in little blue circle land.
by Valerie Joyner
Congratulations to CSTA member and STEM Educator, Katherine Schenkelberg, of West High School, in Torrance, CA! Katherine was recently awarded one of the 2013 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards. An appointed panel of experts selected her for her innovative use of data-collection technology. “The use of data-collection technology in the classroom helps foster students’ interest in STEM education and provides them with engaging, hands-on opportunities for scientific investigation,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and a former physics teacher. “For ten years Vernier and NSTA have recognized innovative STEM educators through this award and this year’s winners are no exception – their projects and programs truly utilize the power of data-collection technology as part of the teaching and learning process.” Learn More…
by Tim Williamson
Members of the California Science Teachers Association are now in the process of voting for qualified CSTA members to fill the seven openings on the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2013-2015 term.
The election is being conducted electronically and opened for voting on April 16, 2013. Voting will close on May 16, 2013. All CSTA members were sent links to the online ballot. Members for whom we do not have current email addresses or who request a paper ballot have been mailed a ballot and candidate statements. Learn More…